The Bend in the River is my Home

Channelsea, Newham
21 June 2020

Surge Coop’s purpose is to reanimate Bow Creek with affordable co-operatively run moorings, bringing historic wharves back into use, nurturing the biodiversity of the area and building lasting community links on land and water.’

As part of this, at our first site on the Channelsea River we have been engaging with the local community with a variety of events and river clean ups.

This year we are continuing with a series of creative events and workshops under the banner ‘The Bend in the River is my Home‘. With these we hope to share with others our vision and love of engaging with the arts and the environment: ultimately enriching our ties to each other and the landscape.

Through our work we always return to the ’Six R’s’. The first three we all know well – reduce, reuse, recycle – and underpin all our daily activities at Surge, inspiring us to think about what we can  use around us to create safe habitats for ourselves and others of all kinds. And the second three – resilience, relinquishment and restoration – are perhaps less well known, and encourage us to think about how can we create resilience in the structures we care about, relinquish actions that cause harm, and restore knowledge we may have forgotten from the past to help us move forward into a brighter future.

Floating from dawn until dusk

A film created collectively by all Surge members, and edited in collaboration with Emma Crouch.

Last year we designed and built a floating habitat, a ‘liver for the river’, with a platform for nesting, a tree branch for perching, and water plants around the outside to oxygenate the water and provide food and shelter for creatures above and below. A few weeks ago we filmed the launching of the island into the river, where it has now become a new home for Newham’s flora and fauna.

The film peers into the Channelsea River, from dawn till dusk, above and below the water, exploring the local ecology and the launching of the island showing the changing habitat as the tide comes in and flows out.

Images courtesy Ruth Keating - Surge Coop

Making a home for lacewings

Lacewings are beautiful delicate looking creatures, that are also ferocious predators, feasting on aphids and mites, making them a good bug to have around the garden and in wild spaces, and an excellent pollinator! This bug hotel is perfect for lacewings, providing a hibernation home for them over winter. Designed and illustrated by Surge members Stephen Shiell and Hannah White, with help from Mia Kingsley. For many years Stephen has been championing growing, re-wilding and habitat building in urban spaces.

Click on the image below to download your own beautifully illustrated guide.

Click on the image above to download your own beautifully illustrated guide.

Then and now

These historic photos of vessels moored on the Channelsea river show how much the area has changed, and how boats were once a regular site, making use of the many wharves that were thriving all along the riverside.

Click through to see historic ‘then and now’ images of the area.

Dandelion Salve

A film about making foraged dandelion hand cream by artist Charlotte Wendy Law. Charlotte has been picking dandelions from around Channelsea over the last weeks and documenting the process of making this into a hand cream, essential for boaters and everyone at this time of increased hand washing! A little bit of self care at home.

An ear to the river

A composition by sound artist Stephen Shiell: hydrophones and microphones positioned under and over the water bringing you a mix of the Channelsea soundscape.

Bollards of Bow Creek

The Channelsea River tributary, and Bow Creek (where the River Lea becomes tidal) have a long history of water use, from invasion by the Danes in 894, to the more recent years of industrial decline and loss of historic wharves. There’s now another change with a modern boom in housing developments along the Lea Valley, and some of the remaining markers of the industrial water-space heritage still remain. This compilation of the mooring bollards as mostly seen from the river today, shows the variety and colour of just a short stretch of London’s waterways.


About this record

The Bend in the River is my Home‘ is a series of creative events and workshops, bringing Surge Cooperatives unique vision to others, combining the artistic and the environmental worlds with that of engagement, enriching our ties to each other and the landscape.

Additional record details

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1 - 31 May 2021